Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ode to hydrangea

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Perhaps it is because of the mild winter we received, or the recent rain that has fallen, but the hydrangea in Atlanta are particularly beautiful this year.  They have slowly but surely become one of my favorite flowers over the past few years, so when we designed the landscape of my yard last year, my request was to incorporate hydrangea bushes wherever possible.

In the area close to the house, my landscape architect specified white annabelle hydrangeas, as he wanted a predominantly white and green look to the yard.  The delicate lacy bloom of the annabelle hydrangea is a beautiful addition to the yard.  I love the softening effect of the hydrangeas, as my landscape has so many clean lines and geometric shapes.  Most of the annabelle that were planted in the fall made it through the winter, although a few of the plants had to be replaced in the spring (and the replacements look as if they are struggling a bit).  The ones that are thriving are doing quite well, and in a few years I imagine that we will have thick covering of these beautiful plants.

Where our lot begins to slope, mophead hydrangeas were planted.  Most of them are white, but interestingly a few of them are coming in with a distinct pinkish hue.  When doing a bit of research on hydrangeas, I learned that for the pink and blue variety of hydrangea, the color of the flower is determined by the ph balance of the soil.  According to http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com, it is possible to change the color of pink and blue hydrangea plants by changing the acidity of the soil – although the website notes that it is easier to change from pink to blue than blue to pink. Maybe in a few years when these are more established, I will see if we can change the ph to make these blue – I much prefer blue hydrangeas to pink.

A few weeks ago, I had a fundraiser at the new house, and one of my co-hosts brought over white hydrangea blooms from her garden.  I am normally the worst flower arranger you can imagine – I tend to trim the bottom of a bouquet, and plop in a vase hoping for the best. However, I had recently read an excellent flower arranging guide from Goop – and I was able to create lovely and simple arrangements of hydrangea in the cube shape vases that I purchased from Home Goods.  I recreated the arrangements for another gathering I had at the house last week with freshly cut blue hydrangea from a friend's garden.  Here is one of the arrangements in my side entrance – it is a bit past its prime, but still looking good.  I know it looks simple, but creating any kind of flower arrangement is a small victory for me!

Maybe next time I will try a dramatic arrangement like this one, from a room designed by John Saladino for a Veranda feature. I remember seeing vases like these at the Mart, although I don't remember who makes them!

As much as I like blue hydrangea in vases, my favorite place to admire them is in their natural state.  Although this is not quite natural state, it is one of my favorite images of hydrangeas – an allee of hydrangeas, planted in giant pots. 

A little more realistic are the images I have captured on my iphone when walking my dog around Atlanta this month.   This picturesque fence was adorned with all different shades of hydrangea, both pink and blue.

A lush and loose arrangement of blue hydrangea frame this lucky homeowner’s driveway.

An unstructured profusion of blue hydrangea take up the entire side yard of this corner lot.

A small peek of the blue hyndrangeas on this property can be seen through the gates.  I featured this house on my blog a few years ago, when it was on the market.

Here is the back yard from a picture taken a few years ago; the white and blue hydrangea must be incredibly beautiful right now. Landscape design by John Howard.  To see the blog post, click here.

A few more pictures found around the web just to round things out…this pretty white hydrangea allee is from designer Loi Thai's pinterest board of white gardens.

This one is from Loi’s pinterest board too…I could spend hours looking at his curated collection of images!

This is how I am hoping my white hydrangeas look some day. Source.

A stunning picture found on the web, showing a nice range of colors of mophead hydrangea (source). 

Designer Suzanne Kasler’s back yard, from a recent article in Architectural Digest. Note the beautiful blue hydrangeas flourishing behind the clipped Korean boxwood.

Recently, Veranda contributing editor and author Danielle Rollins snapped a picture of the hydrangeas in her yard and posted on her facebook page.  For those with great memories for magazine spreads, this view might look a bit familiar…

Danielle’s house was featured in Town & Country in 2010, and was decorated by legendary designer Miles Redd.  Danielle’s book Soiree: Entertaining with Style is available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be released in the fall.  I see that there is a turquoise garden bench in the recent picture, which was not in the magazine spread. I think it adds the perfect touch to the space, but then again I am partial to garden benches (as this post confirms)!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea!  Do you have hydrangeas in your area? I don’t remember them from my teenage years in Connecticut, but then again I did not really notice these kind of things back then.  If you have any inspirational images of hydrangeas from your neck of the woods,  I would love to see them.

QD collage

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